PITTSBURGH -- Giant Eagle is testing an ordering kiosk for its delis in 20 stores and has plans to extend the program to 30 more stores by the end of the year if the pilot is deemed successful.
The retailer completed the installation of most of the 20 units in stores in its Pittsburgh and Cleveland marketing areas, said Laura Karet, senior vice president, marketing, Giant Eagle.
"We have 20 stores planned for right now and we are going to see how that goes. If consumer acceptance continues to be as positive as it currently seems to be, we will make plans for an additional rollout," she said. The number of customers using the devices is steadily increasing "and the people who have used it really like it," she said.
The Xpress Deli kiosks, from InterMedia, Owings Mills, Md., remedy an age-old customer irritation for supermarkets: long lines at the deli counter. With the kiosk, as seen by SN in one Giant Eagle store in North Olmsted, Ohio, customers place their order for cold cuts, cheeses and even party trays on the kiosk, which in most cases is linked to the store's scale management system. In about 10 minutes, they can pick up their order from a refrigerated case located about six feet away from the kiosk, which is in the vicinity of the deli order line. In the meantime, customers can do other shopping or take a break in the nearby cafe.
"I think the future for this kind of technology in supermarkets is very big," Karet said. "The technology continues to improve and to the extent that more convenient solutions are developed that we can utilize to help our shoppers, Giant Eagle is going to continue to invest heavily in this area."
Other retailers using or testing the Xpress Deli Kiosk include Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Genuardi's, H-E-B, Meijer, Gelson's, Big Y and Brookshire's Grocery, according to the InterMedia Web site. Overall, a dozen chains are using the kiosks in a total of 310 stores, said Kevin Sheehan, senior vice president of InterMedia.
"We are always looking for ways to make the shopping convenience more convenient and easier for our customers," Karet said. "One of the things the customers have told us is they would like help in expediting the deli-ordering process. We are very happy with it so far. It seems to be something people really like. We are going to watch it and see what happens."
Giant Eagle has not considered similar kiosks for any other parts of the store because deli is the only one where there are significant wait times, she noted.
Supermarkets have been slow to accept kiosks, probably because their time-crunched customers see little benefit in them, Sheehan said. "This is the first kiosk application that consumers have embraced. They are embracing it because it saves them time in the store-shopping experience vs. adding to the time that they spend in the store. At the end of the day, consumers want technology in the stores that solves problems," he said.